Check pets for ticks says AVA

Check pets for ticks

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With mid Summer upon us the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is encouraging pet owners to check pets for ticks to prevent serious harm or death.

“Dog and cat owners must be vigilant at this time of year, particularly when travelling to tick prone coastal areas,” said AVA President Dr Robert Johnson.

Find out the tick hot spots, the signs of tick paralysis and how to check pets for ticks.

Tick hot spots

In the last couple of months, the Disease Watchdog database has recorded more than 180 cases of tick paralysis down the eastern seaboard particularly in New South Wales. The hot spots include the Central Coast, Newcastle, Nelson Bay, Foster, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.

“Ticks breed mainly along the east coast in warm and humid weather. With the extremely hot weather we’ve experienced lately, which is set to continue, we are urging pet owners to take preventative measures to avoid what can often be a fatal outcome,” he said

Signs of tick paralysis

Paralysis ticks tend to attach to the head and neck area of the pet and on the chest and the front of the leg, but can be found on any part of the body.

“Ticks release a toxin when they feed, which leads to a condition known as tick paralysis. Common signs of tick paralysis include difficulty walking, gurgling and choking. Dogs will often not be able to bark properly due to paralysis of the throat,” Dr Johnson said.

“Other animals may start to cough when eating or drinking, or may cough up water or food. Some may also have trouble breathing.”

How to check pets for ticks 

Ideally pet owners should check dogs and cats daily if they live in tick-prone areas. This is done by running your hands over the animal to feel for anything unusual. In cats, ticks often latch around the back of the neck where they can’t groom, so it’s important to pay special attention to this area. If you find a tick it’s vital you act and contact your local vet for advice.

“Even if you find and remove a tick it’s important to keep an eye on your pet as they can be affected by the toxin for up to 24 hours after removal. Early treatment gives the best chance of survival,” he said.